Getting Defensive: Arizona Cardinals final preseason game
After a stellar performance against the Atlanta Falcons’ starters, the Arizona Cardinals’ secondary looks ready to get back to the ways of “The No Fly Zone”
Matt Ryan was an MVP last year and led his team to an NFC Championship, subsequently falling short of a Super Bowl victory. On Saturday, against the Cardinals’ starters, he went 4-of-11 passing for just 36 yards. He threw an interception on the very first play the Falcons had the ball on offense. Tyrann Mathieu made an acrobatic catch after the ball was tipped in the air. His second pick in each of the last two games.
The secondary was fully prepared for the Falcons’ high-powered offense and they let Cardinal fans everywhere know this defense is still for real.
“I was pretty pleased with the way we played as a defense,” Patrick Peterson said, “especially in the back end.” Peterson himself almost added another pick — one I’m sure he’d want back. On the play, Peterson himself looked like the receiver on the route and dropped the wide open pass. A great sign for one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Another player with a solid performance was safety Tyvon Branch. The 10th-year player out of Connecticut wants to contribute at his more natural position — strong safety. “Being back at strong safety, that makes a big difference, too,” Branch said. “I’m playing more comfortable being a safety than the nickel now that Ty’s healthy.”
The “Cannon” almost ready to fire
“Money linebacker” Deone Bucannon was back at practice Monday after recently being removed from the PUP list last week. Bucannon is hoping to make his return week 1 on Sept. 10 against the Detroit Lions. But for him to make that return, head coach Bruce Arians said he’ll need to “get into football shape real fast.”
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The Cardinals’ defense will need “Buc” this year in the middle alongside veteran Karlos Dansby if they wish to remain an elite defense. Rookie Haason Reddick is making strides, however, and will most likely be the No.3 ILB on the final depth chart as the preseason comes to a close. During the preseason, Bucannon was greatly missed as the inexperienced Reddick and Scooby Wright struggled at times.
As to how the rest of the linebacker group will fill out, that we’ll know this weekend. After Thursday’s final preseason game against the Denver Broncos, the roster will go from 90 players to 53.
A great final opportunity for someone on the bubble to make this team. I would expect nothing less than maximum effort from those who still wants to be employed past this weekend.